What do they mean by 'intellectual experience' for an essay prompt?

Hey y’all,

I decided to start early on essays. I chose to do Harvard’s ‘intellectual experience’ prompt after looking at them all. My question is, what counts as an intellectual experience? They listed out a few examples (a course, project, book, discussion, paper, poetry, or research topic in engineering, mathematics, science or other modes of inquiry). Is this all the options, or can I reach out a bit? I was going to write about reconnecting with my heritage through learning about Chinese history, but if I bend the meaning a bit, I could talk about my experiences with roleplaying and how that shaped my worldview.

Is it safe to talk about roleplaying as an ‘intellectual experience’?

Was there a source that got you started on the history search? A relative, a documentary, a book? Were there several?

To me they want to know the intellectual start (book, discussion with family) and not a physical event, like a hike or a trip.

The next step, the learning about your history, can certainly incorporate all types of learning (reading, watching, crafts, museums),

The Harvard prompt allows you to write about a topic of your choice or one of the listed topics. Rather than shoehorn in what you want to write about into a listed topic, write what you want to write about if you think that helps define you as a person that Harvard would want.

If you go the route of reconnecting with your heritage through Chinese history, you run a big risk of sounding like a lot of Chinese American applicants. Putting your role playing experiences as the primary focus (vs finding your heritage) I think will be more interesting and distinguishing. Make no mistake, your competitive pool will be high achieving Chinese American applicants. You need to find ways to stand out in that pool.